Leon and I moved into my second-story apartment at the end of June and it has been an adjustment for both of us. Leon, originally one of my parent’s cats, is used to ruling a domain of 1,200 square feet or larger.
Dr. Anne Dayton, a doctor of veterinary medicine at Baring Boulevard Veterinary Hospital in Sparks said that cats do wonderfully in an apartment environment.
“It’ll take [cats] a couple of weeks to adjust when you move,” Dayton said. “I’d certainly bring the food dishes, litter boxes and everything they’ve been familiar with so they feel somewhat at home. Cats don’t need a large amount of property so they will acclimate very well from a large space to a small space.”
Leon had made himself at home but it was last week that he decided to look out the bedroom window and got himself into trouble. Weighing in at 13 pounds, Leon is no kitten and needs more room that my small windowsill can offer. He misjudged the strength needed to get from the floor to the window and ended up jumping headfirst through the screen. I heard the crash from the living room and by the time I rushed to the window Leon was nowhere to be seen.
I ran out the door and downstairs, calling his name and praying I wouldn’t find a kitty pancake on the ground. But I found him alive and well, slinking around in the bushes with wide eyes.
Leon let me pick him up without running away and leaving the broken screen on the ground, I hurried back upstairs to check for blood and injuries but saw none. Since he was frightened and not used to being outside, I was lucky Leon wasn’t too skittish to be caught and held.
“Usually [cats] will stick close to home,” Dayton said about indoor cats that escape outside. “But if you’re worried about them running away, get them micro-chipped, even if they’re an indoor cat.”
Cats can have a microchip inserted at any veterinary office, Dayton said. It is also free to register the microchip with Washoe County Regional Animal Services.
“Unfortunately,” Dayton added, “cats are such unique creatures that they do everything in their own time. You can’t even lure them out with food unless they’re hungry.”
Dayton also recommended not only calling the Nevada Humane Society and Washoe County Animal Services but also going in person daily to check if an owner's lot pet is there.
Lucky for Leon, I was close by and he made it safely back inside. For the remainder of the week I scrutinized his every move, asking myself, “Does he always lick his paw that way?” and “Is he meowing more than usual?”
Dayton said some things to look for in a potentially injured animal are pale mucus membranes, difficulty breathing and not bearing weight on a limb.
“If they’ve fallen and they’re bleeding, that’s fairly obvious,” Dayton said. “Other things wouldn’t be blatant to you, like breathing patterns. If you’re worried, I’d recommend getting them evaluated.”
Leon has been his normal self ever since the accident, never showing any signs of pain or strange behavior. For all I know, maybe he just landed on his feet.
Leon’s accident pales in comparison to Florida Sen. Kenneth Myer’s cat Andy, who, according to the book “Great Cats: The Who’s Who of Famous Felines” by J.C. Suares, fell from a 16-story apartment building window and survived.
Leon jumping through the window got me thinking about how to keep him safer around the house. For starters, windows will no longer be left wide open.
Dayton had a few other recommendations for pet owners.
“Put things like chocolate and medicine away,” she said. “Keep things up and out of their reach. When sewing, make sure every little needle and thread is accounted for. Make sure that [electrical] cords are sprayed with a repellant like bitter apple or run through a PVC pipe.
“Whether you live in an urban area or the suburbs there are coyotes, feral animals and cars around,” she added. “Cats live a long, healthy life indoors.”
Hopefully Leon is listening and won’t make any more escape attempts through the bedroom window.
The Baring Boulevard Veterinary Hospital is located at 700 Baring Blvd. in Sparks. For more information on pet microchips and what to do if your animal is lost, visit www.co.washoe.nv.us/animal/lostandfound.html.